Road Warier

Delve deep to reduce driver risk.

Paris Hilton and singer John Mayer did it. New York Nets guard Nate Robinson recently did it too. They all got caught driving on suspended driver's licenses. Fortunately, while they had their mug shots splashed all over the Internet and paid steep fines for their poor judgment and marred driving records, no one was harmed.

If they were driving on the job, however, they might not have been the only ones affected. Employers who require employees to drive as part of their jobs may find themselves liable for workers' driving records. Imagine discovering after an accident that your employee was driving on a suspended license. Talk about being caught off-guard and potentially liable.

Concealing driving infractions to gain employment can be tempting, especially in today's job market. That's why, just as financial institutions rely on an individual's credit reports to determine credit-worthiness, any company that may have to put an employee behind the wheel should delve a little deeper into a potential hire's driving record by conducting a motor vehicle record (MVR) review.

A MVR review verifies whether a driver has a current license and lists citations and accidents. It is a vital tool for both driver selection and ongoing qualification. Multiple moving violations suggest that the individual is not a good choice for a job that involves driving and may also indicate recklessness or indifference to following rules. A clean driving record, on the other hand, suggests something about a person's maturity and sense of responsibility. Conducting MVR reviews also reduces the risk of allegations of negligent hiring if an employee should be involved in an accident.

It is also wise to request MVRs annually for all drivers. Many third-party vendors offer multiple follow-up checks and at least two states, California and New York, offer employers an automatic alert system that will notify them when an entry is made to a driver's MVR. Items to consider in the review include:

  • Make sure the name and date of birth of the driver matches the name on the MVR. Requiring several forms of identification is a good practice.

  • Make sure the MVR shows a “valid” status for the type of vehicle the employee is expected to drive.

  • Make sure the license type stated on the MVR matches the type of license needed (i.e., Commercial Driver's License [CDL]).

  • Is the state issuing the driver's license the same as the driver's residence or state of employment? While there may be legitimate reasons for a difference, there could be instances where a driver has a license in more than one state and one has numerous violations while the other is clear.

  • Drivers of commercial vehicles (gross vehicle weight of more than 10,000 lbs.) must be at least 21 years old. Additionally, drivers aged 65 and over should have an attending physician's report certifying the individual's ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. While the Department of Transportation (DOT) requires a two-year medical certificate from a medical examiner, this is a minimum. An annual physician's report is a good practice.

The obvious preference is a clean record, but this may not be a practical expectation in a tight labor market. Each organization must determine what constitutes an acceptable MVR, indicators that trigger disciplinary action or mandatory driver training, and violations that immediately disqualify the driver from operating any company vehicle.

For example, a company may decide that in the last three years an employee should have:

  • No more than three moving violations;

  • No more than two accidents;

  • No combination greater than three violations and accidents;

  • No DUI, DWI, reckless driving or vehicular felonies; and

  • No speeding violations greater than 20 miles per hour over the posted limit.

Timely and thorough review of MVRs for all applicants and employees is cheap insurance. It can help control your risk, spot trends before they cause losses, reduce your claims and even save your business.

Matt Gartner
XL Specialty Insurance Company

Related Stories